Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

A Warning to the People of the Colonies

The International African Service Bureau, an organization of Black people in Great Britain, issued this manifesto in late 1939. It called on all colonized peoples to unite against the imperialist bandits and struggle alongside British workers against the war. This is part of our collection on Marxism and Black Struggle.

Left Voice

August 15, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Leon Trotsky and C.L.R. James (Illustration: Sou Mi)

(For additional material on this manifesto see the column on the Negro Question on page 3.)

To the oppressed and exploited masses of the British Empire, and all peoples under the heel of imperialism throughout the world:

You, the most oppressed and exploited, will soon be called upon to take part in a war which threatens the slaughter of millions of men, women and children. Ruin, misery and devastation unparalleled in history endanger humanity. Yet at the conclusion of the war the mass of the people will still remain in their present condition of abject poverty. War is no solution for their problems.

Even if agreement is reached between the rival imperialisms, it will only delay for a short period the threatening conflict. The next issue will be the Colonial Question.

The Truth About the War

We are told that the war will be fought to save Poland from Hitler. This is a lie! If a battle is waged it will be to prevent Hitler from overrunning Europe and stealing “their” colonies.

This is the truth that they dare not tell!

If these democratic nations are so concerned with defending smaller nations against aggression,why did they stand aside and allow Mussolini to attack the defenseless Abyssinian1Abyssinia was a Western name for Ethiopia. people after having promised them assistance? It is to mislead you that our Imperialist masters are asking you to join up and fight for Democracy against Fascism.

DEMOCRACY! What do you know of democracy in the Empire? In 1914 they called on the masses in the Mother Country and in the Empire to fight for Democracy and self-determination. Millions died on Flanders’ Field, in Palestine, in East, West and South Africa. For what? More slavery, more oppression, more exploitation.

No “Rights” Under Imperialism

You in the Empire! What rights, what liberties,what democracy have you in the “glorious” Empires of Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, etc.? They have robbed the masses of their land and broken up their civilisation. They segregate you in your own country, pen you in reserves and locations like cattle, make you carry passes like common criminals, and then pay you starvation wages. In the West Indies you are still denied the most elementary rights of human beings. You asked for bread, and they gave you hot lead!

The colonial masses in war, as in peace, can have only one aim, one goal — INDEPENDENCE. And we summon you in whatever country — India,Ceylon, Burma, Palestine, Africa — all people who fight for this end, to unite against the warmongers, both Democratic and Fascist, and all those who at this hour pledge in your name your lives in defense of the imperialists. They do not represent the real aspirations of the colonial peoples struggling for liberty. Be vigilant and watch the traitors in your own ranks.

Unite in the Common Struggle

We denounce the whole gang of European robbers and enslavers of the colonial peoples – German Nazis, Italian Fascists, French, British, Belgian and Dutch democrats — all are the same IMPERIALIST BANDITS whose common aim is the enslavement of humanity throughout the world.

To the workers of Britain we appeal also. You must unite in the struggle of the colonial peoples against the common enemy, who is in your own country. To white and black the solution is the same: Organize and be ready to seize the opportunity to overthrow the enemy.

FOR COMPLETE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL LIBERATION OF THE COLONIAL PEOPLES!

DOWN WITH THE IMPERIALIST BANDITS!

WORKERS OF ALL LANDS UNITE!

British Centre Against Imperialism
International African Service Bureau
London – August 29, 1939

Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 76, October 6, 1939 / Transcription: Marxists Internet Archive

Notes

Notes
1 Abyssinia was a Western name for Ethiopia.
Facebook Twitter Share

Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.

Ideas & Debates

What the Movement for Palestine Can Learn from the Rutgers Encampment Deal

The Gaza solidarity encampment at Rutgers New Brunswick ended in a deal between the administration and a negotiations team at the camp. It’s been a highly controversial decision. The experience at Rutgers shows the need for a truly democratic, bottom-up fight for Palestine.

Jason Koslowski

May 17, 2024
A banner at the City College Encampment in NYC which reads: "The 5 demands: 1) Divest 2) Boycott 3) Solidarity 4) Demilitarize 5) A People's CUNY

Specters of Vietnam in the pro-Palestinian Movement

The reemergence of the student movement raises echoes of the past that help to articulate key aspects of the direction of the movement against the genocide in Palestine. Here we consider a few links between today and the movement against the war in Vietnam.

Daniel Alfonso

May 12, 2024

The Student Revolt for Palestine

The student revolt for Palestine in the United States is spreading throughout the world. It is essential that the student movement unites against repression and draws the masses into the fight for a free Palestine.

Jimena Vergara

May 6, 2024

Left Voice Magazine for April 2024 — Labor Notes Edition!

In this issue, we delve into the state and future of the labor movement today. We take a look at the prospects for Palestinian liberation through the lens of Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution, and discuss the way that Amazon has created new conditions of exploitation and how workers across the world are fighting back.

Left Voice

April 20, 2024

MOST RECENT

Victory for the UAW at Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga Represents a Potential Turning Point for Labor

Following a year of strong union struggles, a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee has voted to unionize with the UAW. This victory, in the traditionally anti-union South, shows that the terrain of labor struggle in the U.S. is shifting.

Joey Eichler

May 17, 2024
Pro-Palestine encampment at UCLA in May, 2024.

“The Working Class has the Power to Stop this Genocide”: Interview with a UAW 4811 Rank and Filer

On Thursday May 15, 48,000 UAW Academic workers voted to authorize a strike, the largest academic workers union in the country to do so. Left Voice interviewed UAW 4811 member Peter Ross about what sparked this historic vote, and the labor movement’s fight for Palestine

Julia Wallace

May 16, 2024
A rally in Brooklyn, people hold up UAW signs

University of California Academic Workers Authorize Strike to Defend the Right to Protest

48,000 workers are one step closer to going on strike to demand that charges and academic sanctions be dropped for the students and faculty who protest the genocide in Palestine and UC’s financial and academic ties to Israel.

Madeleine Freeman

May 16, 2024

Nakba Day: CUNY Faculty Stand Against Repression and for Palestine

On Nakba Day, faculty across different CUNY schools mobilized for Palestine and against the repression of protesters. The actions, organized through an assembly of workers, point toward the solidarity needed to continue and expand the student movement and fight for a free Palestine.